Rafed English

Indifference to Others' Problems

Those who view every act of benevolence towards others as a cumbersome matter and regard people with ill will and resentment, are, in fact, those who have severed their spiritual links with the world in which they live, so much so that they are immersed within themselves and are unconcerned with others and their problems. They imagine that no one else has an equal right to live, and they themselves are incapable of perceiving their own stakes in the general good and welfare.

Of course, this group of people is not devoid of human feeling and they do sense the suffering of others. But they are so imprisoned within the walls of egocentrism that there is no room in their scheme of things for altruistic sentiments. In other words, they are incapable of transcending their individual egos to reach the collective self.

Dr. Alexis Carrel, the well-known scholar, says :

Everyone who directs himself wisely through life gradually undergoes profound changes. When the body and the soul act in accordance with their nature they become more resourceful. Conformity to the laws of survival, regeneration, and spiritual edification automatically reinforces all physical and psychic activities. This progress becomes especially noteworthy with the development of ethical merits and the growth of the moral, the aesthetic, and the religious sense, as well as personal altruism and forbearance. At the same time, the intellect is also illuminated.

When one understands that the goal of life is not mundane profit but life itself, one no longer devotes his attention exclusively to the external world, but views more closely his own life and that of those around him. He comes to know that he is dependent on others and that others are dependent upon him. This brings to light the artificial character of the views of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the illogicality of the social contract, the danger of individualism, and the necessity of paying attention to others like oneself at all stages of life.

There is an open contradiction between individual self-seeking and the love of one's fellowmen, which is essential to social existence. The development and growth of the body takes place through the means of environmental agents and with the help of other individual Throughout its foetal existence, the human being is a kind of parasite dependent on the mother, and until the age of maturity is a parasite dependent on the family and society. Accordingly, he becomes accustomed to regarding the boons of his environment as a right. The ubiquity of individualism in all living creatures owes its existence to this instinctive urge to egoism.

On the other hand, extreme self-love makes the formation of a real society impossible. Hence, the love of one's fellowmen is as necessary as self-love, and there should be an equilibrium between 'I' and 'we" as two opposite tendencies. This equilibrium is a necessary condition of our success in life, in the same way as the precise movements of the hand depend on the functional opposition of the contracting and stretching muscles of the fingers. There are various ways in which individual 'I' become transformed into a collective 'We'. 2


2. Carrel, Alexis, Reflexions sur la conduite de la vie, Persian trans. Rah wa rasm-e zindagi, pp. 145-146.

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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